Thursday, 9 March 2023

Croatian-Austrian Startup PlanRadar Making History in Tasmania

March the 9th, 2023 - The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar is making waves on the other side of the world, with the digitalisation of the largest infrastructure project in Tasmanian history.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, a company whose eponymous cloud platform has been designed to digitise construction processes, has been selected as the software supplier for the 786 million Australian dollars (500.45 million euros) Bridgewater Bridge project over the Derwent River in Australia.

The work of building the bridge is being managed by Burbury Consulting, and it is the largest infrastructural transport project in the entire history of Tasmania.

It's interesting to note, as they pointed out from PlanRadar itself, that the Peljesac bridge project right here in Croatia was one of their main references for getting this job in distant Australia. Domagoj Dolinsek, the founder of the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, explained that this is their biggest project in Australia so far, and also one of the biggest in the world.

A strategic step forward

"We've been present in Australia for a year, and with last year's investment in our company of 69 million US dollars, a stronger exit from the European market to the global market, primarily North America, the Middle East and Australia, was made possible," explained Dolinsek.

The new Bridgewater Bridge project will use PlanRadar to manage all of its various inspections, quality assessments, task management, construction documentation, site audits and other key aspects of construction project management. PlanRadar pointed out that they are a leading player in this particular industry with over 120,000 clients in their global base using their property and construction project management software platform, and this is their first infrastructure mega-project in Australia.

“PlanRadar has previously been used in similar infrastructure projects across Europe, notably in the case of Peljesac Bridge, one of Europe's largest construction projects, along with its surrounding network of roads and tunnels. The Peljesac Bridge project is still one of the largest mega infrastructure projects in southern Croatia, with a total value of 550 million euros,'' they stated.

Bart Crowther, the Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar's regional manager for Australia emphasised the importance of this project for their future presence in that part of the world. "The opportunity to work on any infrastructure project of this scale is truly extraordinary, and the positive impact on the Tasmanian community, both for the 22,000 daily users of the future bridge and for the improvement of freight and logistics routes on it, is extremely important to us. We're looking forward to working with the Tasmanian Government and the Burbury Consulting teams and helping guide their day-to-day ongoing site inspection processes,” Crowther said. A Burbury Consulting representative said PlanRadar was chosen for this project because of its data-driven reporting capabilities.

"When it came time to choose our project inspection software, we unanimously chose PlanRadar because of their ease of use and incredibly detailed data-driven reporting capabilities that help us better manage timely reporting, inspections, audits and verifications," it was stated.

Otherwise, this new Bridgewater Bridge will replace the existing 75-year-old cable-span bridge and will have a length of one kilometre in total. The main works on the bridge started last year, and it is estimated that it will be completed in 2024. The river crossing between Bridgewater and Granton in Tasmania has a long history and the first bridge was opened in 1848.

The existing Bridgewater Bridge was built back in 1946 and is the fourth bridge at this location, but the planning to replace this bridge began over 20 years ago, with many different designs and plans developed over that time, and the current project was completed and finally approved in 2018. The Croatian-Austrian startup PlanRadar, born from the idea of builder and founder Domagoj Dolinsek, enables the management of all construction documentation via mobile phones, tablets and computers, and is used in both the construction industry and on the real estate market.

By digitising the workflow, PlanRadar reduces the frequency of what could be costly and frustrating errors, saves time for all parties involved and enables huge efficiency gains: users report saving an average of seven working hours every week.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Meet the Mighty State of Uhljebistan in Croatia

March 8, 2023 - So how does Croatia really work? Meet the Mighty State of Uhljebistan.

Can learning one word of a foreign language change your understanding of that country and your relationships with your local friends?

It did with me.

The day I learned the word Uhljeb and its effect on Croatian society, Croatia changed for me, and so did my relationships with many of my Croatian friends.

Find out how Croatia really works be entering insides the walls of the Mighty State of Uhljebistan, a country within a country in Croatia.


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.




Wednesday, 8 March 2023

How to Obtain Permanent Croatian Residence as an EU/EEA Citizen

March the 8th, 2023 - In this article, I'll take you through what you need to do to obtain permanent Croatian residence as a European Union/European Economic Area citizen. A bit of good news is that EU law makes this your right to have after five years of lawful, uninterrupted temporary residence. Let's dive in.

I've already written extensively about what you need to do to secure temporary Croatian residence as an EU/EEA citizen in this article, so make sure to click on that and read through it if it applies to you, because you won't get permanent Croatian residence without completing those five years (and one day) first.

Once you've racked up your five years of temporary residence, you can get permanent Croatian residence. As an EEA citizen, unlike a third country national, this is your right, even if the clerk you’re met with makes you feel like it isn't. You might get lucky and be dealt with by a friendly face, but if you aren't, remember it's them and not you. Just provide what they ask for and you'll be fine.

Typically, you'll need to prove your five years of continuous, legal residence, this is done simply by presenting your temporary residence card. All of the information MUP needs will be on it, or stored in it. 

You may be asked to provide proof of enough funds to sustain yourself, proof of address, proof of health insurance (again, you might not even be asked for this), and proof of your identity.

The key requirement is that you have held residency for a continuous period of five years in Croatia, absences of six months or less every year are permitted. As opposed to third country nationals, permanent residence for an EEA citizen is an automatic right under EU law. You're simply asking MUP for a confirmation of those rights. You therefore do not need a valid temporary residence permit when registering your permanent residence, unlike third country nationals. EEA nationals apply after five years and one day.

EEA citizens do not need to take an exam in Croatian language and the Latin script, this was confirmed by MUP here in Zagreb via email correspondence. Despite this, some EEA nationals report being told they need to do so, and some portals and websites with outdated or confusing information claiming they need to. If you need to be certain, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the question, stating that you are an EEA citizen and are unsure. You can present that email if you end up being wrongly asked to take a test.

As stated just above, some officials claim that you must submit this application before the validity of your five-year permit runs out, however, this is not the case for EEA citizens as your right to permanent residence is automatic under EU law, meaning that you actually seek confirmation of your rights after five years and one day. Make sure to ask about your situation. The same rules apply to family members of Croatian nationals who are not nationals of an EEA country.

You'll be given the correct form to fill in once you go in person to apply at the police station.

As opposed to the case with third-country nationals, MUP is required to provide a decision on the permanent residence application of an EEA national in the shortest time period possible, so you'll likely hear of your approval quite quickly. Once again, if you don't hear anything or have questions, make sure to call your case worker (ask for a contact number when you make your application!) or send them an email.

Once your permanent Croatian residence is approved, you'll go to pick up a new biometric permit with a typical validity of ten years. As stated previously, permanent residence provides almost all of the rights a Croatian citizen enjoys and when granted, you are no longer subject to any conditions as long as you do not leave Croatia for longer than you're allowed to, and you can read about that here.

You can access the state's social security system, you can work and carry out services freely, in any manner citizens do without needing any type of special permit or permission for foreigners, and you can leave the country as often as you'd like to. You simply renew it as you would a passport every decade. You will not be subject to any more conditions or questions.

If you commit a crime that lands you with six months or more in jail, or you're deemed and proven to be a threat to national security, then your permanent Croatian residence can be revoked and you can, in some very rare cases, face deportation.

For more on moving to and living in Croatia, make sure to keep up with our dedicated lifestyle section. An article dedicated to certain practical and/or administrative procedures for life in Croatia is published every Wednesday.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

European Central Bank: Intro of Euro in Croatia Only Mildly Affected Prices

March 8, 2023 - The introduction of the euro in Croatia only affected the prices in January and February relatively mildly, by 0.4 percentage points. This is similar to the experiences of other countries that introduced the euro, shows the Preliminary analysis of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Croatian National Bank (CNB).

As Index writes, the analysis was published in a blog post titled Has the Euro Changeover Caused Extra Inflation in Croatia?

The blog authors Matteo Falagiarda, Christine Gartner, Ivan Muzic, and Andreja Pufnik found that the January increase rates of the price of goods were in accordance with historical patterns in the past ten years. In contrast, service prices have on average, increased more than in the past years in January 2023. In February, however, none of the components of inflation deviated significantly from the historical average, the CNB reported today.

"65 percent of prices remained unchanged"

The authors point out that the official increase rate of the Harmonized Consumer Price Index in January compared to the previous month was only 0.3 percent. In February, it was 0.2 percent compared to January, classifying Croatia among the countries with the lowest monthly price increase rate in the Eurozone.

From the analysis of microdata on retail prices, it has been observed that the proportion of attractive prices (such as "0.99") decreased significantly, with about 98 percent in kuna to about 45 percent in euros, as a direct reflection of the fact that in January, prices have not changed much, so expressed in euros they were no longer at attractive levels (e.g. "0.99").

Specifically, as many as 65 percent of prices remained unchanged in January compared to December, and out of the remaining 35 percent - 25 percent of prices was reduced, as some retailers rounded off prices at lower levels when remodeling from kuna to euros, they say in the CNB.

The perception of inflation lowered after the introduction of the euro

The impact of introducing the euro on the perception of inflation and inflation expectations was also analysed. Contrary to the previous experiences of members of the eurozone, where the perception of inflation increased the most during the introduction of the euro, in Croatia, this perception decreased in January compared to December and remained stable in February, while inflation expectations have significantly reduced in both months.

The reduction of the perceived inflation was most influenced by the decrease in energy prices, which outweighed the possible negative effect of the introduction of the euro on the perception of inflation, they say in the Central Bank.

The authors conclude that despite the more challenging inflationary environment, the impact of the introduction of the euro on consumer prices in Croatia has so far been relatively gentle and in accordance with the experiences of other countries that have already introduced the euro as an official currency.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

AmCham Croatia Presents Results of Business Environment in Croatia Study

March 8, 2023 - The main limiting factors in business in Croatia have been inflation and growing energy costs, and a lack of appropriate workforce, according to AmCham Croatia.

“Despite the good business results in 2022 and optimistic business plans, the caution of companies is observed in anticipation of possible negative effects on business. The main limiting factors in business are inflation and increasing energy costs and lack of appropriate workforce,” said Andrea Doko Jelusic, executive director of AmCham, presenting the results of a study on the business environment in Croatia, which was conducted in the period from December 12, 2022 to January 25, 2023, on a sample of 162 members of domestic and international companies in Croatia, reports Poslovni

Doko Jelusic added that more than 67% of respondents found 2022 better for business than the previous year, while for 13% of them, business in 2022 was worse than in 2021. If 2020 is omitted, marked mainly by the pandemic, in 2022, an increasing number of companies recorded a slowdown in business. Most respondents (51%) have increased the number of employees, while a third of the companies have maintained the same number of employees, similar to last year's results. On the other hand, a considerable number of respondents (59%) evaluated the experience of doing business in Croatia as good or very good, and 53% of respondents noticed the improvement in business conditions in the last five years.

The most significant improvements in the five-year period were seen in the conditions of financing and increased demand for goods and services, as well as trade exchange opportunities and payment conditions, while the most significant limiting factors, according to the study subjects, were the availability and quality of the workforce, the price of work and the quality of the legal framework.

“The expansion of business is planned by 73% of respondents compared with 82% in last year's study. In planned employment, the percentage is identical to last year - 66%; however, the proportion of those who plan to hire more than 20 employees is reduced, while the proportion of those who plan to reduce the number of employees is growing,” said Doko Jelusic.

“Compared to the previous (2021) year, in 2022, AmCham members recorded similar business results. Mild employment growth and satisfaction are recorded in business conditions over the previous five-year period. On the other hand, the proportion of respondents who record better business results is reduced. Inflation and growing energy costs were not at all in the focus of business owners in 2021, and in this year's study, they took the central place as the main limiting factors. The lack of an appropriate workforce, which was in the first place in the previous year, has now taken third place,” said John Mathias Gasparac, the first Vice President of the AmCham manager.

Research areas include business in 2022, business environment, the impact of institutions on a business environment, comparison with the region, business expectations and attitudes to Schengen, and introduction of the euro and EU funds.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Business section.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Kopacki Rit Starting Tech4All Project to Help Preserve Endangered Species

March 11, 2023 - For World Wild species Day, March 3, the leading Technology Company Huawei officially launched the Tech4All project in cooperation with the Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences in Osijek (FAZOS). The project aims to preserve the biosystem in Kopacki Rit. It has been realized with Rainforest Connection, a global partner of Huawei from the USA, and FAZOS.

As SiB writes, the Tech4all project, with the help of state-of-the-art technologies and artificial intelligence, Huawei, along with partners Rainforest Connection, FAZOS, and Nature Park Kopacki Rit, will help protect the endangered species of plants and animals and in protecting and preserving their natural habitats. With the help of acoustic technologies, Croatian scientists will be assisted by artificial intelligence, collecting and processing the sounds of wild animal species of Kopacki rit in real-time. They expect this will help form a clearer picture of their migration, the abundance, and the state of the total ecosystem known as one of Europe's most preserved natural habitats.

“We are extremely excited to expand our partnership with Huawei on the Tech4All project in Croatia. Together with FAZOS and Huawei technologies Croatia, we look forward to applying artificial intelligence techniques to facilitate the monitoring of species in this important wetland area. Acoustic monitoring will allow us to see how the wealth of species and community structure are changing in the face of climate change, but also to successfully plan further steps in response to changes," said Chrissy Durkin, Vice President for Growth and Development in Rainforest Connection.

Rainforest Connection is a global non-profit organization that deals with preserving the environment and will convey its knowledge and experience of using Huawei's technology in the protected area of the Kopacki Rit Nature Park. Scientists at the Faculty of Osijek Agrobiotechnical Sciences (FAZOS) will thus have the opportunity to observe numerous wild animal species with the help of state-of-the-art technologies as part of their own "WatchOut" project (Wetland & Wildlife Monitoring Using Technology & Acoustics "), which is part of the Tech4ll roof program.

“The Faculty of Agrobiotechnical Sciences has been working closely with the Kopacki rit Nature Park for many years to protect plant and animal species. As a scientific institution, it is of great importance to develop scientific work, support the development of future scientists, and raise awareness of how important the stability of this ecosystem is. Through the Tech4All project, with the help of acoustic Huawei technology and artificial intelligence, we will have a clearer insight into migrations of migratory birds, their abundance, movements, and long-term trends we need to be aware of, ”said Prof. Dr. Ivana Majic, Vice-Dean for International Cooperation and Studies in English (FAZOS).


The program will also significantly help the local community and raise awareness of the protection of wild and endangered species, and Kopacki Rit is classified as one of the few eco-areas that use advanced technology to protect endangered habitats. Scientists are thus given the opportunity to predict and prevent the occurrences of negative trends already threatening a delicate natural balance of the nature park.

“The Kopacki Rit Nature Park is one of Europe's best preserved natural habitats. It is home to hundreds of bird species and other biological types of flora and fauna. Protecting such wetlands and the natural balance must be our priority because we indirectly depend on them. Therefore, programs such as Tech4All are extremely important because they help us preserve our natural habitats by giving us specific scientific data based on which we can act. I would like to thank Huawei for making this valuable research work possible. I am sure this cooperation will be positive and fruitful,” said Ivo Basic, director of the Kopacki Rit Nature Park.

With this move, Huawei is putting Croatia on the global map of countries that recognize the importance and power of modern technology in solving the problem of today, and Croatian scientists will obtain knowledge that will direct the entire community.

“The Tech4All program was created for one purpose: the use of technology to resolve many global challenges. Protecting endangered habitats and, thus, the fight against climate change is at the center of Huawei's global development strategy. The cooperation between Huawei, Rainforest Connection, and Croatian partners is a bright example of what can be done when technology and expertise are combined, and we hope to further continue our cooperation. We wish all scientists great success in their work,” said Xiaoou Wang, Public Affairs & Communication Manager at Huawei.

The Global Huawei Tech4All program is a long-term program that aims to use the power of advanced technology to help develop society in four key areas: education, health, environmental protection, and reducing the gap between urban and rural areas around the world. Huawei, along with Tech4All and Seeds for the Future, continues to cooperate with a series of scientific institutions to allow young, promising, and talented students to develop ICT skills with the help of their experts.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

19th ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival Starting Soon!

March 10, 2023 - The ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival is finishing preparations for its nineteenth edition. It will traditionally open the Croatian Film Festival season at the Kaptol Boutique cinemas from March 26 to April 2.

As Journal writes, the last publicly spoken sentence at the end of each film festival is the first of the new season: preparations began last year, with the last day of the last festival. The details may vary, but at the core, it is always the same: the preparations for the festival last all year. There is only enough time for the final moves in the months leading up to the festival. ZagrebDox is no exception; on the contrary, it brilliantly demonstrates how accurate the previous sentence is.

Less than a year ago, the European Film Academy of Zagreb included ZagrebDox in the narrowest circle of elite world festivals, whose films compete for the annual award of this umbrella film institution in the documentary category. Thirty-seven festivals from all over the world, ZagrebDox being a proud member, greatly define the documentary scene, and therefore it should not be surprising that as many as fifteen films competed for one place in ZagrebDox in 2023. Numerous quality film applications (almost 1500 of them!) have caused sweet sorrows for the selection team, with the founder and director of ZagrebDox Nenad Puhovski, leading it since the first day.

“Since in the recent period, due to the pandemic, the completion of documentaries has been slightly slower, this year we faced the wealth of truly great Doxes, so the selection process was long and complex. The fact that we have decided to return the extremely popular 'Music Globe' and 'Happy Dox' programs may be the best witness to this. On the other hand, the increasing popularity of documentaries is probably best demonstrated by the fact of 'overcrowding' of the Masters Program with the films of Herzog, Ivory, Schlöndorff ... As always, we are showing the most awarded documentaries of last season, such as the winner of the Golden Lion from Venice, 'All Beauty and Blood' by Laura Poitras. The latest films are, of course, there as well, which will only have their world premiere at ZagrebDox, such as the 'Eastern Front' by Vitaly Manski, which is eagerly expected at Berlinale. Last but not least, ZagrebDox continues its commitment to the Croatian documentary this year with as many as twenty latest films," said Nenad Puhovski.

The nineteenth edition of ZagrebDox will be scheduled at the five halls of Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar from March 26 to April 2. In addition to more than a hundred excellent films, numerous guests, accompanying events, and talks are expected, in short, a documentary film festival in all its colours, durations, thematic focus, and artistic achievements. This year's edition of ZagrebDox will primarily focus on the audience who demonstrated last year that it loves documentaries on the big screen despite all the changes brought on by the era of streaming services.

The ZagrebDox documentary selection in 2023 is receiving its final contours, but its visual identity has been ready for some time, this year signed by Studio Sesnic & Turkovic. This year, the designer creatives have reached out to the festival's very foundations in designing its visual identity. The colour is recognizable, and the key element is highlighted and anchored in the unmissable ZagrebDox Rubik's Cube for announcements. The nineteenth Zagrebdox is just around the corner, burdened only with the desire to show the best documentaries in the world!

All news and information about ZagrebDox are available on the official website and the social networks of the festival.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Ryanair Osijek to London Flights Are Back! Here's When They Start

March 8, 2023 - Big news for everyone who has been waiting for a convenient way to travel to the Croatian east! The Ryanair Osijek to London line is back after a long hiatus. 

As SiB initially wrote, the aviation analyst Sean M, who regularly publishes news from the world of aviation on his Twitter, published important information for Osijek Airport, that starting from the summer season of 2023, the Irish airline Ryanair will once again fly to London. The flights will be on Fridays and Mondays, which will mean a new international link between Osijek and Europe.

Currently, you can fly from Osijek to Munich, Germany, and this line will certainly bring a lot to everyone who wants to visit London and the surrounding cities. It will potentially attract tourists from these countries to Osijek and the surrounding area as well.

On June 2, Ryanair will introduce a line between Osijek and London (Stansted Airport), thus returning to Klisa after a multi-year break, SiB confirmed.

Flights from Osijek to London shall fly on Mondays and Fridays, and flights are planned in the afternoon and evening.

Flights can already be booked through Ryanair's website.

The current price for the first flight on June 2 from Osijek to London is €30.99, and the return flight on Monday, June 5, will cost €48.99.

If you want to fly to London on Monday, June 5, you will pay €77.99 one way, but again on Friday,, the price from Osijek to London is €30. As for all other Ryanair flights, prices vary by date, and occupancy and change dynamically. The cheapest one-way ticket is €30, and the most expensive one in July was €103.99.

The good thing about Ryanair is that there are often promotional flight prices and various discounts with which you can get a much better price.

You should, however, keep in mind that the price does not include luggage, i.e. you can only take a small cabin bag. If you need more, you will have to pay extra.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated News section.

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Magical Medjimurje in March: a Major Surprise

March 7, 2023 - A business trip to Medjimurje in early March turned out to be a VERY pleasant tourism experience. 

It is the smallest of all the Croatian counties, and the northernmost, nestled next to now borderless Slovenia and Hungary. And despite the fact I lived just a few kilometres from its capital of Cakovec during my time in Varazdin, Medjimurje is the county that I know least well in this fair land. Apart from one quite extraordinary 24 hours there with the Gastronaut legendica Karin Mimica back in 2016 (Read more in Gastronaut Discovers the Mystical Tastes and Traditions of Medjimurje in Northern Croatia), an excellent lunch at Mala Hiza (that horseradish soup was awesome), and a meeting with a web developer, my knowledge of Medjimurje was zero.

My motives for visiting Cakovec had little to do with tourism and more on spending time with a new business partner and defining our relationship.  She suggested I come for a couple of days to chat and have a look around her native territory, a good chance to mix a little business and pleasure, and to see Medjimurje through local eyes. 

And there was a lot to see. As I left some 48 hours later, the dates of May 12-14 and the Urbanovo festival already in my diary, I kicked myself for ignoring this rather fabulous region for so long. 

Although, truth be told, understanding the local dialect took even more servings of gemist than in Varazdin. 


First up, and what a way to start, a business lunch at Mala Hiza, the pioneering restaurant in Medjimurje and the first in the county to make the Michelin Guide. A superbly rustic setting with a very innovative menu including dishes such as horse, there was no way I was missing out on my favourite horseradish soup to start, which lived up to its billing. 


Wandering through central Cakovec that evening was beautiful. A little lonely, as there was almost nobody about, but beautiful. I put some pictures on Facebook to see if there was anyone around who might be interested in showing me around or pointing me in the direction of some hidden gems. It was one of my most popular FB posts of the year, with some 266 likes and a barrage of messages (apologies if I have not got back to you all yet - I will). 


After the statutory Croatian coffee and 12 cigarettes ritual at our morning meeting, it was off to Krizovec to the 'Between Two Waters' visitor centre, a fascinating look at the nature, flora and fauna of this unique region. Medjimurje had once been almost all forest, and its heritage was well documented. The prime oak tree was called Adam, and it took quite a team to fell it - and we would meet Adam over breakfast.


Did you know that there was a protected park on Croatia's northern border which spans five countries? No, nor did I. 


And then I saw a familiar face, recorded for posterity. Mate Horvat, the last gold panner from the gold-panning era on the Drava. You can learn more about that in my 2016 article Aged 94, Meet Croatia's Last Surviving Gold Prospector on the River Drava

Do you have any video footage of Mate in action? I asked.

No unfortunately, I don't.

I did, from that amazing Gastronaut trip 7 years ago, which I will be forwarding. 


Medjimurje welcomes everyone. A 5-star hotel for bugs. 

 And I LOVED this. The Chapel of the Fallen Forest, a tribute to trees felled and what became of them. 

It was nice to see that even here, the art of Bench Tourism is alive and well.  


Time for breakfast at Beska in Cakovec, which had a very homey traditional feel - a nice spot to chill.  


And in the courtyard, remnants of Adam the Great Oak Tree, turned railway sleeper.  


I really enjoyed the tour of Cakovec Castle, which was of course dominated by the history of the Zrinski family, but there was SO much local culture and tradition on offer.  Among the many highlights was this extraordinary costume with a traditional mask called Pikac.


When they say that it takes a village, sometimes it really does... 


Time for some liquid refreshment, which came in the form of a recommendation from young Filip, the recently appointed Cakovec Tourist Board  Director, who was among those who contacted me on Facebook. A very cultured young man, we fell into earnest conversation about tourism over beer and cake - the legendary Medjimurksa gibanica, which sometimes is unfortunately translated as Middle Earth Moving Cake. Whatever the translation, it was delicious. 


Not gonna lie, I thought Mamas and Tapas was top, even more so when the owner came over to say hello. He insisted I try this dish on the house - fortune cookies stuffed with pork. 

As all fortune cookies should be. Croatia, why would you live anywhere else?


And rather a nice beer selection, if that is your thing. 


Enough beer had been consumed to take in the random facts of Cakovec. Did I know, for example, that the first Chinese restaurant in Croatia opened in Cakovec, and that David Bowie popped in for a bit to eat after a concert in Budapest en route to his next gig in Zagreb? There is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England...  


Breakfast in Upper Medjimurje looks like this, and if you have a hostess such as Tatjana Hazic, you know you are in trouble. One of the few female winemakers in Croatia, she is also one of the toughest, having completed an Ironman as well as running a rather excellent winery. 

 But how to make such a super overachiever nervous? Simple. Be the first person to ever try her first ever Pusipel, the pride of Medjimurje grape varieties. So special is it that it has its own individual bottle and wine glass. So how was it? See above. 


I loved everything about the Hazic winery - what a cool use of corks! 


And the first wine camp in Croatia! Bring your caravan and start drinking. Each pitch is named after a grape variety.  Please reserve Sauvignon for me - the Hazic Sauvignon is a Decanter medal winner and is awesome.  A small family winery, Tatjana sells all her wine locally. Why look for national distributors when you can open a wine camp and the drinkers come to you? Awesome lady.  


The vines dominate Upper Medjimurje, truly spectacular. 


And where better to take in the view of the whole of Medjimurje, as well as Slovenia and Hungary, than from the top of Madjerka Breg, fabulous out of season, and a cool rural party destination in season.  


If you were surprised that people were gold panning in Medjimurje, how about this for a claim to fame? While the first commercial oil drilling in the United States took place in Drake in 1859, meanwhile in Medjimurje in 1856... 

 I won't pretend it was an easy place to find, but there you are, another slice of Croatian history which is relatively undocumented. 


My two days over and a little food hamper with love from Medjimurje for the way back to Zagreb. 

Overall impressions? This is what I posted on Facebook:

Not gonna lie, my expectations of a trip to Medjimurje in Feb for business were not huge. But what a fab little gem it is. I always prefer to see destinations out of season to see how much substance there is. So grateful to the many locals who reached out, showed me around, and made the 48 hours so magical.

First impressions. This is a land of oil exploration and gold panning, but the real natural treasures it possesses are its nature, traditions and fine food and wine. It feels like a contented independent and self-sufficient country, where hard work and gemist power the daily grind. A land where the small family businesses spanning generations provide the economic wealth and unique stories. I loved it and wil be back soon. If only they could work on making their Croatian more intelligible. And now with Schengen, Slovenia Hungary and Austria on the borderless doorstep. And just over an hour from Zagreb. Why aren't you here?


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.




Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Why I No Longer Give Free Advice about Croatia

March 7, 2023 - After 12 years of writing online, why I no longer give free advice about Croatia.  

It all started with a laptop and a pint.

A new career, the latest in a string of new careers - being self-employed in a foreign land is not without its challenges. 


I remember how nervous I was when I started the Total Hvar blog way back in October 2011. Did I have anything interesting to say? Would anyone actually read my words?

There have been many milestones over the last 12 years, which live long in the memory, but none more so than the moment that Sinisa Matkovic-Mikulcic of Secret Hvar became the first person to share one of my articles. 

It got EIGHT likes on Facebook.

I felt like JK Rowling, as though the whole world was reading. 

And then came the first comment, and then the first email asking for information. I was more than happy to oblige. Engagement grows the beast, but also I could see how the birth of a community would help the site grow. 

And grow it did.

At one crazy point, the TCN project had no less than 11 writers on the payroll. It was pretty chaotic.

And just as the number of writers and articles increased, so too did the incoming emails to the inbox, most of them looking for information or wanting to meet for a coffee. 

I was always happy to oblige, but then the floodgates opened. I currently get about 400 messages a day, mostly from people I don't know. They are looking for information, thinking about moving to Croatia, and wanting to meet and buy me a beer. 

It is flattering to get so much attention, but there comes a point when if I answered every email and drank every beer, that would be my full-time job. Which would not bring in a lot of cash to feed the kids. 

And of course, there are those who expect you to be at their beck and call, and if you don't reply instantly, you are arrogant. When I lived in Varazdin, there was a chap in Zagreb who wanted to buy me a coffee. I was only going to Zagreb one day a week at the time, and my diary was full of business meetings from 10am to 10pm each week when I got the bus back home. I apologised, said I was busy and to try again in a month if he still wanted to meet. He gave me a piece of his mind and unfriended me.  

Each to their own. At least one less message, I suppose. 


And then there are those such as former Top Fan Andrea, who sent me a bizarre request for help regarding her partner's inability to get an Irish passport notarised, and what could I do to help. Having no knowledge about the situation, as well as being the 30th enquiry I had answered that hour, I suggested she check with the Irish Embassy. 

For which my public reward was above. 


Maybe I have an arrogant streak in my messages to people with the surname of Woods (or perhaps it is the same person), but here are some of the comments to my announcement of my new talk show on 24Sata, which aired on Sunday. 

Another commentator asked dear Elizabeth to explain what question she had asked me. I did too, also wondering also why she follows TCN if she finds my face so abhorrent. 

As with many trolls, when confronted, the comment was deleted, and so we will never know. 

Such is life. 

So lots of effort for little reward, with the probable bonus of receiving abuse for your efforts. It sounds a little like promoting tourism and getting lawsuits in compensation. 

Back in 2011, I was a lonely blogger with no peers to talk to, but these days, of course, there are many more freelancers and copywriters in the remote work space. 

We began to talk and share experiences. 

We were both shocked, I at how much better they handled all this, they that I was doing so much for free.

"Rule number one, Paul, NEVER  do anything for free once you are established. You have built a brand, have a website full of articles, an excellent book. If people still want to talk to you, then they should pay."

Would anyone really pay to learn something from me?

I decided to test it recently.  The first person was thinking of moving to Croatia and wanted to schedule a call to pick my brain. I politely suggested he buy our recent book, Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners, and if he still wanted to talk, then I could send him my rates for 30 and 60 minutes.  The reply was swift - thanks but he had no intention of paying. It seems it is fine to expect me to give things for free.

I spoke to more people in the field, and they were all adamant. Start charging.

And so, somewhat with reluctance (but necessity), that is what  I have decided to do. And incredibly, a little like Sinisa being the first to share one of my articles all those years ago, someone is prepared to pay for my time to help him move to Croatia.


So if you want to book my time for a chat, I charge 70 euro plus VAT for 30 mins, 100 euro plus VAT for 60.

Having said all that, I am going to try one new approach to making myself available to answer people's questions, in the form of a YouTube live AMA (Ask Me Anything) one hour a month. I am still figuring out the format and will announce the time shortly for a 1-hour live chat. If you have a question you would like answered, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject Live chat.  


You can subscribe to the Paul Bradbury Croatia Expert YouTube channel here.

What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.




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